With its First SDN Release, Opendaylight is Just Out of the Starting Gate

The project's Hydrogen software is out, but its full impact is yet to be seen

Wed, February 05, 2014

IDG News Service (San Francisco Bureau) — The OpenDaylight SDN project released its first code and drew a sellout crowd to a conference this week, but it will take more than that before the effort can be declared a success.

Backers of the open-source effort announced the release of their software-defined networking platform, called Hydrogen, at the OpenDaylight Summit in Santa Clara, California, on Tuesday. The conference was packed with representatives of networking and IT vendors and some of those who rely on networks, such as service providers.

Participants and analysts applauded the release of the software, which was produced in seven months with contributions from 154 developers, but cautioned that OpenDaylight's impact has yet to be seen. Anyone can download Hydrogen for free, but whether it drives SDN forward will depend on who does and where it ends up.

OpenDaylight launched in April 2013 with Cisco Systems, IBM, Microsoft, Ericsson and VMware among its founding members. The vendors called in the Linux Foundation to host the project, which is designed to combine code from many sources to form an open-source basis for SDN and the related concept of NFV (network functions virtualization). Both of these technologies are designed to do for networks what server virtualization did for computing, making it easier to run networks and add new capabilities to them.

With vendors dominating the membership rolls and Cisco and IBM making big contributions, some critics questioned OpenDaylight's ability to push the new concepts, which threaten to disrupt traditional networking. Rivalries among the members also raise questions about their ability to work together.

Competing network vendors have banded together in the past in groups that had little effect, such as the Network Interoperability Alliance that tried to take on Cisco in the 1990s. But Linux Foundation Executive Director Jim Zemlin held up the Hydrogen release, with more than 1 million lines of code, as proof the naysayers were wrong about OpenDaylight. He compared doubts about the SDN project to early claims that Linux would fail. "OpenDaylight is on the right side of history," Zemlin said.

IBM, not surprisingly, is already using OpenDaylight's software. The company announced an OpenDaylight-based SDN controller, the Software Defined Network for Virtual Appliances, at the conference on Tuesday.

Ericsson plans to use OpenDaylight code as part of its larger SDN offering, said Don McCullough, director of strategic communications for the Swedish company's technology group, in an interview at the conference. He didn't specify when that would happen. Ericsson did take one firm step to promote OpenDaylight on Tuesday, announcing a lab at its San Jose facility for testing out implementations of the OpenDaylight system. The lab will provide a hardware platform on which startups and academic researchers can try out software they develop for OpenDaylight, McCullough said.

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